Amazing Messy Play Ideas and the Benefits of Sensory Play

Amazing Messy Play Ideas and the Benefits of Sensory Play

I recently wrote about the benefits of outdoor play and an added benefit I didn’t mention but is a huge one in our home is that the mess stays outside! We love messy play and I know that you are going to love it too when we look beyond the “mess” aspect and into the benefits and learning outcomes of creating these opportunities for our little ones. In this post you will find:

  • 63 amazing ideas for messy play

  • The benefits of messy play and sensory play

  • Our favourite messy play activity

  • Two awesome freebie printables for you to download!

  • A homemade finger paint recipe

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

But first let’s start with what messy play is all about!

I am a tidy person for the most part and I love organization, but having a child with the wind as her guide and a business that I’m so passionate about, leaves little time to clean and organize the way I once would have. Plus, who wants to be scrubbing dishes when the rest of the family is running around in the yard? In welcoming all types of play, I want my daughter to investigate the world in whatever way she likes, chase her passions and part of that means letting her make a mess. Taking all of this outside let’s us both walk away with a win (read more about the benefits of outdoor play here). She’s getting the benefit of playing in the fresh air, getting to play with messy and wonderful methods of play, and I can use the hose to clean it all up at the end!

Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome
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What are Sensory and Messy Play and Why Do These Activities with My Child?

Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome

What is Messy Play?

Messy play is play with no set outcome, using materials that can be manipulated and changed that evoke the use of children’s senses while working their hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, life skills such as pouring, mixing and measuring, and essentially ends up with a happy child and a great big mess (although not always)! There are so many types of messy play and materials you can use. I’ll list a few further on in this post.

It can be intimidating to take on messy play in our homes when our days are already filled with so many tasks, taking on a great big mess in the middle of our living rooms can be daunting. But there are so many benefits of having our children dive into this type of play.

What is Sensory Play?

Sensory play is often a goal in providing messy play that is well known in the early childhood education world. It provide experiences and opportunities that make a meaningful contribution to a child’s cognitive and creative development as well as so much more. We all use our senses in more ways than we can understand, to make our way through our day to day but more so in young children who are making sense of their work, through touching everything in sight, putting everything in their mouths, smelling things we can’t imagine smelling, watching and searching out information in all they see around them, listening to every word (yes, they can hear everything and often repeat it!) they hear, and moving in such a way that they involve themselves with their surroundings; climbing, crawling, jumping, rolling, sliding, dancing, twirling. This is all sensory learning through play.

In creating opportunities for children to apply what they are naturally drawn to do, we are allowing them to develop parts of their brain that sitting back and “watching” or “listening” as you would imagine in traditional educational environments simply can’t provide. We are giving them the opportunity to learn more about their world while using their 7 senses.

What are our 7 senses?

We are so familiar with our five senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch

But it turns out there are actual 7 senses in play, the two additional are: Vestibular and Proprioception

Sight – the ability of the eyes to focus and detect images of light and translate the message to the brain about colors, hues, and brightness.

Smell – the ability to detect odour molecules which send messages to our brain based on how mild or strong the information is.

Taste – the ability to gather information from food and some minerals through our taste buds and send the message of sweet, bitter, salty, sour and savoury to our brain.

Hearing – the ability to translate sound from changes in the air, or vibration and pass that information to the brain to recognize and interpret.

Touch – the ability to take variations in pressure, usually on the skin using hair follicles and tell the brain of the message and where on the body this sensation is felt.

Vestibular – has to do with balance and telling our brain when our body is in motion and when it needs support from other senses to stay stable (example: walking on an uneven or slippery surface)

Proprioception – is about the overall placement of our bodies, where our arms and legs are and what they are up to, and if they are able to do what the brain is asking of them next. (example; jumping from a rock and landing on our feet knowing our feet will be there to land on or clapping our hands with our eyes closed).

Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome

The Benefits of Messy Play and Sensory Play to Child Development

  1. complete more complex tasks through practice of life skills
  2. enhances cognitive development
  3. enhances language development
  4. stimulating the senses
  5. gross motor development
  6. fine motor development
  7. practice using tools (shovels, paint brushes, tweezers, spoons, cups, etc.)
  8. supports independence
  9. enhances memory
  10. conflict resolution
  11. problem solving skills
  12. decision making
  13. concentration
  14. patience
  15. STEAM learning
  16. unique experience each time
  17. freedom to learn with no set outcome
  18. planning ahead
  19. responsibility and care for materials
  20. can be done anywhere, anytime with any materials (list provided below)
  21. relaxing and soothing
  22. meaningful interactions with friends and family
  23. boost confidence in mastering skills such as pouring or measuring
  24. learning shapes, sizes, patterns size, shape, height, weight, counting, grouping, buoyancy and volume
  25. learning about cause and effect
  26. learning about literacy
  27. hand-eye coordination
  28. it’s fun!
  29. develop imagination, curiosity, and creativity
  30. investigation and testing theories
  31. incredible tactile experience
Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome

A beautiful resource for homeschooling, and enriching learning through play at home with toddlers and preschoolers, which will take them into adulthood. Builds upon core concepts that are increasingly challenging so as your little ones grow and knowledge expands, you have the resources to support them all in one place.

Purposefully made with calming colors to prevent distraction and provide a focused space for learning through play with a parent or teacher,

The Love of Learning Binder can be used in a homeschool setting, preschool, or as a daily part of a momma life with little ones at home and makes a wonderful quiet time activity so you can get to business on your own goals.

Here for you, Momma!

63 Amazing Outdoor Messy Play Ideas for Your Children to Enjoy

Bug Hunt and Collection for Investigation
Build a bird feeder or bird house
Building and Decorating Cardboard Boxes
Camping Fun (super cute ideas here)
Chalk Painting
Collage Creating
Colored Rice
Cooked Noodles Play
Cooking Adventures – let them cook up a family favourite or be adventurous like this kimchi recipe or this homemade butter!
Digging for Dinosaur Bones (This is a cute activity about finding dinosaurs in the ice!)
Dry Pasta Play
Finger Paint
Flour Fights
Garden Play
Giant Canvas Painting
Glitter Activities
Grass and Mud Soup
Ice and Snow Painting
Jello Bins
Jelly Balls
Large Scale Construction
Learning About Food Coloring (Dying Carnations Experiment)
Learning How to Use Liquid Glue
Make Giant Bubbles
Making “Dough” – Letting the Child Take the Lead.
Making Music with Homemade Instruments (and learn how children around the world make music!)
Marble Painting
Modelling Clay
Move Indoor Toys Outside
Move Pillows and Blankets Outside
Mud Kitchen (and learn about different feasts around the world for inspiration of what to create in your mud kitchen!)
Nature Inspired Painting (clouds, flowers, trees)
Oat or Dry Cereal Play
Outdoor Bath
Paint Balloons
Painting with Feet
Pasta Jewelry
Picnic
Play Dough
Play in the Leaves (fall)
Playing is Messy Weather (rain and snow)
Playing with Beans
Potato Flakes
Put on a Play (with beautiful set creation)
Rock Collecting
Rock Painting
Sensory Bins
Shaving Cream
Shower in the Rain
Slime
Soapy Water (or better yet, make this elephant toothpaste! So fun!!)
Sports Play (while learning about the sports children around the world play!)
Sprinkler Fun
Stamp Painting with Nature Items
Stamp Painting with Potatoes
Take Messy Meals Outside to Let Your Child Enjoy with the Freedom of Allowing the Mess to Happen.
Tea Party
Turkey Baster Painting
Washing Station
Water Balloons
Water Painting
Water Play
Working with Tools (with adult support)

Invite the Scientist

Exploration Through Painting – Our Favourite Outdoor Messy Play and Sensory Learning

We love painting outside. Little Bee loves to make a giant mess on craft paper wrapped around our big oak tree, painting rocks, or logs, making prints with leaves and grass, but most of all she loves to mix and pour the paint, learn about it through hands on play. 

STEAM learning allows our little ones to create their own colours, mixtures, art pieces through investigation and testing their own theories. What started out as everything ending up brown, my daughter has been learning to mix colours in such a way that she can now create the combinations she wants from primary colours, and add texture when she decides to do so. She is learning hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, life skills such as pouring, mixing and measuring, to name just a few. The most important and meaningful benefit to today – she’s having a wonderful time!

Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome

The Amazing Benefits of Painting with Your Child

  1. Allowing an artist to form and discover their creativity.
  2. Allows children to express their feelings by discussing their creation.
  3. Learning the science of the materials they are using. How each works, the effect and impact of each type of tool or canvas, different types of paint. Chemistry, and physics all wound into one simple activity.
  4. Never the same activity twice. Even in the most simple form, with paper and paint using fingers to create, the picture will be something unique each time.
  5. Given the freedom to create, children are able to take control of the activity and make it whatever they wish. It’s entirely up to them and they can allow the experience to guide and direct them.
  6. There are so many ways to use painting to build sensory experience and move those muscles, both fine motor in holding the painting tools, to large motor in moving one’s body to create the picture.
  7. Decision making – colours, materials, design and critical thinking
  8. Supports Independence
  9. Cleaning and Care for Materials
  10. The materials you can use are endless (list shared below)
  11. Relaxing and Soothing
  12. Meaningful Interactions with Friends and Family
  13. Accomplish a Goal – Ending the Activity with a Final Product
  14. Enhanced Concentration
  15. Appreciating the Arts
  16. Create Gifts for Others – Spreading the Joy
  17. Boost Confidence in Mastering a Skill
  18. Learning Shapes, Sizes and Patters – Introductory Numeracy!
  19. Learning About Colour Mixing
  20. Hand-Eye Coordination
  21. It’s Fun!
  22. Engaging the Senses
  23. Develop Imagination, Curiosity, and Creativity
  24. Investigation and Testing Theories
  25. Learn About Beauty, in Nature (inspiration) in the Tools and Supplies (such as our beautiful things bin) and in Creation (what is made in the process and final product)
  26. Cognitive Development (both sides of the brain are used in creative and emotional application as well as logic and step by step process application)
  27. Language Development – using descriptive language to explain what you are doing and asking the same of the child, explain what they have created, what materials, what colours, how many colours, shapes, sizes, widths, designs, what have they used as inspiration, why did they choose it – get them talking, describing and building their vocabulary.
  28. Enhanced Practical Skills: pouring, wiping, cleaning, counting, organizing, to name a few

Bonus Benefit to Painting with Your Little One

It can be inexpensive! You can create you own paint or use inexpensive paint you purchase –  you can create you own brushes using nature’s supplies or use non at all (finger painting), use can use paper, or natures canvases all around (rocks and leaves). This is an activity that is accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere!

HOMEMADE FINGER PAINT RECIPE:

(requires stove)

•2 cups flour

•2 tsp salt

•2 1/2 cups cold water

•2 cups hot water

food colouring

Have your little one mix the dry ingredients while you add the cold water. Mix until smooth (or if you are using a mixer, you can take over to move this process along). Add the hot water and place on the stove to boil stir until it becomes clear and smooth. Add your food colouring to the mixture or split into many bowls to create multiple colours.

The Best Painting Supplies for Your Child

If you aren’t feeling quite ready for messy painting –

we love this mess free paint for when we are somewhere we don’t want to make a big mess,

such as Little Bee’s Grandparent’s house

– thanks so much Amanda, Avery and Max for introducing this to us!

Download Your Freebie Here!

This amazing type of play sets the foundation for those basic concepts that from afar may look like “mess making” but when you get a better understanding you come to find that in fact they are building important core skills that will take them into adulthood, they are investigating and practicing and becoming who they have the potential to be. Cleaning up a bit of rice after knowing this, is so small when you are setting the stage for someone amazing to become someone amazing. 

Amazing Benefits of Messy Play Plus 63 Great Activities You Can Do at Home BooksBeesAndABCs.com #messyplay #sensoryplay #quickandeasy #toddler #preschooler #activitiesathome

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The Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children

The Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children

The Amazing Benefits and Importance of Outdoor Play

for Children of All Ages

Most children love to play outside if given the opportunity, which in itself is a beautiful benefit; the joy and laughter they experience and the smile beaming across their face.

Knowing the enjoyment from the exploration is only the beginning as below I go into detail about:

12 Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children

From developing strength and coordination, building independence and confidence, children learn of the incredible opportunities that playing outside provides and share it with us every time they lace up their shoes to go outside. They already know, and now it’s our turn to learn.

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

May 17th was the most recent Outdoor Classroom Day – a movement by educators looking to enrich the learning experience of children and love of the outdoors. While running Profound Play and Learning, we always took part in Outdoor Classroom Day (of which there are two a year – winter and spring) when the weather allowed, spending our entire day outside.

With yesterday being Outdoor Classroom Day, Little Bee and I still wanted to make it a special part of our day so we packed up a bag and took our play outside. We always incorporate outdoor play in our day but for a special day like this, we try to spend the entire day outside to really bring home the idea of the benefits of outdoor play.

What is Outdoor Play?

For Little Bee, outdoor play is fun and freedom, a wide open space with room to spin with arms spread, welcoming the sun, rain, snow and wind. Building confidence, coordination, strength and understanding, Little Bee is learning to appreciate the outside world through physical and mental play and development.

12 Benefits of Playing Outside for Children

 

  1. Physical Health – I think this one would be a clear benefit for anyone who has ever watched a child play outside. They are non-stop movement, with room to spread their wings and the urgency to run, dance, move and spin. All of this activity works to build their strength in muscles and bones, gets their heart pumping and blood moving, gives them the ever important fresh air to fill their lungs and Vitamin D for their growing bodies. Practicing those skills in fine and gross motor development, balance, flexibility, and coordination while encouraging exercise and enjoyment of the outdoors.
  2. Mental Health and Wellbeing – Children who are able to shake out their sillies and be the natural investigators they are in the outdoors tend to be happier and more resilient people. Burning off the energy that is wound up inside these little people all day allows them to concentrate, and be more relaxed (which supports classroom success and behaviour) in addition to those feelings of happiness.
  3. Improves Sleep – A third of school-aged children in Canada are sleep deprived, according to a 2016 ParticipAction report card, which states that a sedentary lifestyle and too much screen time are to blame. According to another 2016 study, published in Acta Paediatrica, longer screen time is greatly associated with shorter nocturnal sleep duration among two- to five-year-olds. It found late bedtimes and poor quality of sleep lead to hyperactivity, depression and obesity, as well as stunted physical growth and lower IQ scores. But there’s a simple fix: That same study found that kids who had more outdoor playtime were less likely to wake at night. Exposure to sunlight helps regulate sleep patterns, and physical activity helps children fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep. Dietze saw this first-hand at a daycare centre in Trenton, Ont. When outdoor time (including naps) was increased from two to six hours a day, it resulted in the one thing parents of daycare-age children want most: The kids slept through the night. (Quoted from Today’s Parent)

  4. Independence – Often when playing inside, children feel they need someone to play with them which can be tricky for moms who are also trying to accomplish a few things on their to-do list. Opening up to the space of the outdoors often encourages little ones to push beyond the normal distance of adult involvement and become engaged in an activity all on their own. Pouring water, digging in the mud, poking sticks in freshly dug holes, gathering flowers, all becomes quiet, focused activity. Even while playing with others in a running game, hide and seek or group activity, children are often just far enough away from an adult (while still being safely observed) that they are led to deal with small conflicts on their own, work as a team with those they play, and take turns all on their own. The biggest of this that I’ve watched and felt so much pride are those moments when children pick themselves up after a tumble, dust themselves off and carry on in play.
  5. Confidence and Self Awareness– Playing outdoors allows children to build on skills they are newly learning and challenge themselves when they feel ready. Relying on balance and coordination, children can actively build confidence in their bodies and minds. They can feel proud of themselves and their ability to accomplish something they felt was beyond their reach just days before.
  6. Education – As a strong believer in learning through play, being out in the fresh air and sunshine (or even clouds and rain or snow) children are keen to investigate and navigate their surroundings and use new tools in their play such as rocks, sticks, mud, grass and snow. This also helps to promote the idea to children that play is valuable, that it can be done anywhere, and doesn’t require traditional toys.
  7. Endless Play Opportunities – Parks well known or new to you, yard, field, gravel, dirt, gardens, school grounds, downtown (safely with adults nearby), a friend’s house, church grounds or community spaces, hiking trails, farms (with invitation), ponds and lakes, all offer incredible adventures and learning opportunities.
  8. STEAM Learning – Born scientists and explorers, the outdoors provides wonderful opportunities to intrigue growing minds and passions. No matter how big or small the discovery, I ask questions of Little Bee’s findings to encourage her to learn more about the world around her and to test out theories about what she already knows. Read more about STEAM learning here.
  9. Push beyond comfort – Encouraging children to push through hesitation in learning new skills, climbing a rock wall, jumping off a log, or flying down a swirly slide that is their own Mount Everest. Safe risk taking is a topic among many educators; providing those opportunities where children can gain understanding of risky play (falling from various heights, slippery conditions, rough and tumble play with friends) and learn of their capabilities with a trusted adult nearby.
  10. Creativity and Imagination – I’ve mentioned a wonderful book before Not A Stick, which is such a sweet, simple way to explores how wide the world becomes with the most basic of play things. Using nature’s toys, children are encouraged to create their own stories, and provide their own entertainment, unstructured and apart from traditional indoor toys.
  11. Social Development – Watching others play, being invited into a game, watching strangers act out their day, talking to neighbours and friends, all encourage children to apply those growing social skills that indoor play often distracts us from. Importantly here as noted above, children also learn how to work and function on their own, a very important skill through language development in expressing themselves to others, the power of their voice, and the ability to be mindful within themselves. 
  12. Love of Nature – Taking in the fresh air, sunshine, amazing puddles to splash in, grass to pull and investigate, mud to create with, rocks to build with, logs to climb on, snow to dig through, the outdoors are filled with amazing and magical play things, learning equipment and tools for exploration. Even while sitting on a small hill, in the span of a few moments, we could see and hear birds, watch ants at work, see a worm disappear into the dirt and hear a nearby dog call out a request for attention. During a walk, we enjoy the water (and of course throwing rocks in to watch the ripples), hear the hooves of horses, and take in all that we don’t see in our own back yard. Each trip offers something new, even if going to the same places on different days (check out this link for a free downloadable scavenger hunt!). The outdoor classroom is the very best one and allows us to connect with nature with a science lessons around every corner, under every leaf and within every shadow.

When children are pushed in a swing, or when they propel a swing themselves, they engage all of their muscles to hold on, balance and coordinate their body to the rhythm of moving back and forth. Swinging provides children with first-hand knowledge and experience of cause and effect and of understanding spatial learning, such as up and down and back and forth. Also, while swinging, children get a chance to see the world from a new perspective. ~ Fisher Price

Playing outside each day has become a part of our regular routine and is a welcomed part of each day. Some days this process takes longer with layers of winter wear, and others after a slather of sunscreen (this is our favourite) we are ready to run out barefoot. No matter the weather, we are ready and willing to be a part of the outdoors although I will gladly admit that those summer days splashing in water are by far my favourite.

Using special days to draw attention to how lucky we are to have an Outdoor Classroom all around us, such as a picnic or hike, or Outdoor Classroom Day, makes play outdoors meaningful and promotes meaningful conversation with Little Bee and I; moments and memories being built each time.

Although I try and take photos when I can, I often get lost in the play myself or am covered in paint or mud so don’t take out the camera or phone. I should try and make a better effort to capture these moments.

What do you like to do outside with your little ones? Do you venture out on even those not-so-nice days or do you prefer sunny weather? I would love to hear

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Fun Earth Day Activities for Your Little Ones (free printable)

Fun Earth Day Activities for Your Little Ones (free printable)

Simple and Fun Earth Day Activities to enjoy with your preschool and toddler as well as school aged children. Great book ideas, easy crafts and activities and fun videos to watch together!Earth Day is just around the corner (April 22nd, 2018) and there are so many fun and educational activities that tie into this topic that will have everyone engaged and learning!

Having the weather be just that much nicer is encouragement to take these activities outside. Little Bee and I have been playing around with play dough (recipe here) a lot as well as an interest in footprints in the snow, and now mud. What a perfect pairing! We took our play dough outside and made prints of all the nature things we have found around us that we were searching out for our scavenger hunt (free download below).

Simple and Fun Earth Day Activities to enjoy with your preschool and toddler as well as school aged children. Great book ideas, easy crafts and activities and fun videos to watch together!

Coming in after our outdoor play, rosy cheeks and tired from walking all over the yard to collect our art supplies, we took a few minutes to sit and have a cuddle (and warm up… common summer) on the couch, when I found this video that I thought you might like to share with your little one too!

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Check out this adorable little video I found that talks at a very high level about Earth Day, with a catchy little song that my Little Bee has now requested on repeat more than once. 

Free Scavenger Hunt Download!

Simple and Fun Earth Day Activities to enjoy with your preschool and toddler as well as school aged children. Great book ideas, easy crafts and activities and fun videos to watch together!

Simple and Fun Earth Day Activities to enjoy with your preschool and toddler as well as school aged children. Great book ideas, easy crafts and activities and fun videos to watch together!We love to play outside and spring is the perfect time of year to investigate those fallen branches from winter winds or ant hills in the making. I created this little scavenger hunt for Little Bee to get to know the language of her backyard and to burn off a little of that energy we’ve been saving for when the rain stopped. We thought you would love to share this with your own children as a great activity for outdoor play! Click the button below and enjoy (you made need to check your junk mail folder to find it)!

 

Amazing Earth Day Books for Kids

Simple and Fun Earth Day Activities to enjoy with your preschool and toddler as well as school aged children. Great book ideas, easy crafts and activities and fun videos to watch together!As always, I use books to reinforce activities with my Little Lady. This is easy addition for us as she and I both love to read independently (me with books beside any spot that I could sit still for any length of time, for her… everywhere…) but most of all together.  What better gift than an addition to her ever-growing library. These are a few of the books we have picked up at the library, some that have been a part of our library for a while, and a few new additions I have ready to share with Little Bee when she wakes up on Earth Day, to make it feel extra special! In true Eric Carle style, The Tiny Seed describes the journey of little seeds with informative language that is not overwhelming for younger readers (although is a bit long so can grow with them) but still provides rich conversation for older readers. I love Eric Carle stories – so thoughtfully made. Bonus: you can check out this video below for a reading of Eric Carle’s story for free!

simple and fun outdoor activity for children toddlers preschoolers and school aged kids to enjoy and experience the nature outside all around them in their own backyard or local park! Super simple printable encourages learning through play with pictures for non readers and early readers to make this a fun activity and idea for the whole family #familyfun #playoutside

I’ve mentioned the National Geographic series for children before, and no better time to point it out again than for Earth Day learning. There are so many great topics that could be included here as well as levels of readers, one of my favourite aspects of this series of books, but here are two; Seed to Plant, and Caterpillar to Butterfly, that would fit beautifully into a library that provides value in learning to your child now, with bright colours and meaningful language, while acting as a great resource in later years, especially for school projects.

Curious George is a popular character at our house – we have a lot of the George books now and they differ greatly depending on when they were published. The newer series are wonderful in that they also have corresponding activities at the end for added value. We have a great one about the rainbows that is really cute and teaches about spectrum formations throughout the story as well as how to form rainbows and has additional facts, real photos, experiments, and activities at the end. Curious George Plants a Tree is an older story where George learns a lot about how to help his neighbour as well as planet Earth and is filled with those adorable little illustrations that my daughter loves so much.

A true favourite – The Lorax, which is also available in an early reader series,discusses the impact on the environment each act we take can have. Pretty impressive for Seuss, talking about these issue way before it became such a supported day on the calendar.  Seuss books always engage little ones with the rhyming, tongue-twister language while teaching something important. Seuss never goes out of style. This story is also available as a movie (DVD link), or you can watch for free when you sign up for Amazon Prime and stream shows, movies, etc. with their service. Pretty cool.

These are the two on our list for this year’s celebration of Earth Day. I’m going to be giving Little Bee two new books for her library. Compost Stew is a cute A through Z book that talks about composing, at school or home. And, Earth Day: An Alphabet Book – illustrates animals familiar and new as well as other incredible aspects of nature that we may often overlook. ABC books are wonderful additions to little libraries. They offer the alphabet reinforcement, are great introductions to early readers as they become familiar with the story and can associate words they know with the letters and sounds, and are incredible reference materials as they grow. Looooooove books that grow with kids – they are great investments.

Simple and Fun Earth Day Activities to enjoy with your preschool and toddler as well as school aged children. Great book ideas, easy crafts and activities and fun videos to watch together!

What do you have planned to celebrate Earth Day this year? Reach out with your great ideas – I would love to showcase them with our readers and subscribers! *

19 Reasons to Fall in Love with Your Local Library

19 Reasons to Fall in Love with Your Local Library

The Importance of the Public Library and Children’s Library Programs

free printable love of napping children reason library Reading has a big place in my home. I scatter books around the house like trophies of accomplishments and snapshots of milestones in my life. I always have a book in my purse and one by the bed and I wouldn’t even want to begin to count the number of books my daughter has. We love to read. This love for reading has been enriched in a lot of ways. I come from a home of readers, talk about books with friends and make it clear to my daughter that I value them. She knows that if she needs a minute to herself in the hustle and bustle of a busy day, she can find her way to her bookshelf to flip through pages of a book. She knows she will get my full attention if she comes over to me with a request for being read to, and we make an adventure of a weekly trip to our library.

The Value of Public Library Programs for Moms

From an early age my daughter and I would spend time at our local library. It was perfect for me as a new mother, nervous to take a small baby out in public. I could go to programs at the library to be surrounded by other moms, or sit in a corner and just watch it all happen. There were toys for my Little Bee and it was a break from the walls of my own house (which I very much needed in those early days). Now my daughter takes great pride in having her own library card, in checking out her own books, of understanding that they are hers to borrow for a little while, and then we give them back so another child can enjoy them. learning through play falling in love with your local libraryThis morning, Little Bee and I went to the library in my parent’s town. We made plans with an amazing fellow momma I went to elementary school with; that friend who hugs your heart. It was perfection. Her daughter, another little friend and Little Bee joined the group of children sitting cross-legged on the floor for and it was time passing in the snap of a finger. Stories, songs, dancing, and even a couple of bunnies entertained us and allowed me some much needed time with a dear friend. Libraries are an amazing place and will forever be a part of our routine.

reasons to fall in love with your library free activities play learning children kids printable library card 19 Reasons to Take Part in Your Local Library 

  1. Enrich a love of reading in your children
  2. Connect with your mom friends and their kids. Social time for mom, social time for littles
  3. Meet new people – there are more than just fellow mommas heading to the library. It’s great to connect to new people
  4. Attend the amazing programs they offer. Hello? Free entertainment. It’s amazing!!
  5. Sit in a quiet corner and read to your child in a new surrounding. Reading has been proven to enhance language, brain development, connection with the person reading to you, and of course love of reading – with book after book
  6. Sit in a quiet corner while your child plays nearby. I have to say I treasure these little moments. In our house I feel obligated to be busy and tick items off the to-do list. Sitting back at the library watching my daughter play with the puppets, I actually have a moment to myself to think, or… not think
  7. More than books. There is so much you can access from your local library. Snowshoes. Movies. Magazines. It’s incredible. You can dabble in a lot of interesting areas that would otherwise would be expensive to “test out” with a toddler who may or may not want to take part. I recently checked out a pool pass to a local pool and thank goodness I did because the first pool day, we stayed for 15 minutes and I wouldn’t have been excited about paying the drop in fee for a short pool stay.
  8. Libraries are no longer just a quiet place. There are areas where you can find this, but children don’t need to be hushed. Snacks can be eaten (meaning stays can be extended) and best of all, roaring laughter can be heard.
  9. Buying books is expensive and not all are a hit. Library books are free! It’s a great way to dive into a new topic or theme that saves us the price tag of a new book.
  10. Learning about the people in your community. So many people go to the library and it’s a wonderful place to introduce your little one to the many people who make up your neighbourhood
  11. Safe technology education. We are not a big technology house but there are often child friendly computers or tablets that increase technological literacy with educational games.
  12. Craft projects. Mess in someone else’s house? Yes, please!
  13. Any time can be library time. You can come and go as you like. We love to take part in organized programming but also enjoy the quieter moments when we essentially have the children’s section to ourselves
  14. Introduce children to the Arts. Libraries often display local art or local projects which can be a first experience for your child
  15. Online resources – you don’t have to walk into the doors of the library to get the benefit. There are so many ebooks, online games and other resources on your libraries website
  16. Becomes a beautiful dramatic play transition at home. My daughter and her friends love to play library at our home . Click below for a free printable library card that your child can use to make their own pretend library.Free Dramatic Play Library Card Printable
  17. Teaching responsibility in caring for a book that is to be shared with the community
  18. Encourages you as a parent to take part in community programs that you learn about from the library and greater community
  19. Reinvigorates your own love of reading!

 

free library card printable play dramatic fun children kidsExposing your child to library programs literally opens up the world to them, expands their knowledge and sets them up for incredible success. The role that public libraries play on children’s literacy development is astounding – I will be writing more about this in an upcoming post. Do you take part in your library services? What do you love about your public library or a fantastic public service in your neighbourhood?

Discovering the Value of Learning through Play

Discovering the Value of Learning through Play

The Importance of Play Based Learning at Home and in School

learning through play based learning importance of play passion creativity toddler preschooler benefitsDeveloping a passion for learning in our little ones can be as simple as involving them in their own learning, especially in those early years. What a daunting thought as I watch my daughter dump the better part of an entire box of cheerios on the floor. How can I harness her interests and encourage learning when there are a million tiny pieces of cereal being ground into the kitchen tile? But my Busy Bee, like so many her age, thrives in a situation where learning can take place through play. Here, she’s learning to pour, the weight of the box both empty and full, volume of the bowl she intended to fill, the movement of the cheerios across the floor, and so so much more. This theory is highly researched, supported and understood but yet we still find it miles away from the educational approaches found in a traditional classroom.

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

I come from a background in Educational Psychology – studying the motivation of learning – but I know without a doubt I still have so much more to learn about the mind and how it works – how we learn and how we come to find our passions, talents and creativity. I have been so blessed to have guides and teachers of all sorts but the most incredible of those profound thinkers is my two year old daughter.

What she has taught me

Children connect to their environment in a way we seem to forget how to do as adults. They are intrigued by what they find around them, such as the box of cereal, as if each time they see it, it is filled with entirely new possibility and without the worry of time management or other pressing priorities that I know I find myself thinking if a similar situation was to come my way.

Learning through play is not new, but our understanding and the value we place on play has changed over the years. It’s difficult from an educator’s perspective, having to illustrate and prove learning to parents or administration (the problem to begin with… I’ll save that for another day), that something valuable has come from zoning into play dough for 25 minutes. But we know it to be true!

importance play learning through toddler preschooler benefits What Learning through Play looks like:

  • spontaneous
  • the child chooses to take part and is motivated to continue
  • flexible and changing
  • open-ended discovery
  • becoming lost in the experience
  • no outcome is expected

Benefits of Learning through Play:

  • play can cross cultures
  • become a means of communication between children, parents, teachers
  • new skills are applied and developed
  • safe space for experimentation
  • relationship and social skill building
  • cognitive development
  • and so much more…

A few years ago, I attended a conference where I met Sir Ken Robinson – a high point in my training and career. Embarrassingly, when given the opportunity to speak to my guru, I clammed up and stumbled over my words. I was at a loss for sharing with the man who sparked my own passion behind learning through play that in my collection of books, his were underlined and highlighted beyond recognition, and that he put into words what my vision for education was.

I’ll let you hear for yourself, how he beautifully describes the importance of finding our passion, and letting our children learn who they are through play. 

value benefits learning through play toddler preschoolerThe Importance of Play to Children’s Learning and Development

I have no idea what my now two year old will do when she grows up. It’s likely she will do something that doesn’t yet exist (as noted by Sir Ken Robinson in the video above), just as I now do something I would never have imagined possible for myself. Empowering children to follow their passions will prepare them for a world of possibility. Allowing them to play their way to understanding, to test theories, to practice what they know in a safe and flexible way will inspire them to be the creators of the future, to construct a life that our adult minds can’t yet fathom. We can let them be little, creative explorers, for tomorrow has yet to be discovered. Learning through play could very well change the world for the better. 

Getting ahead on the learning for preschool, here is our Love of Learning Binder which you can use with your toddler and preschooler to learn, and enrich their education at home be it through homeschool or a morning routine this binder printable is packed with activity mats, cut outs and additional learning activities to make this a simple and quick process for you! From BooksBeesAndABCs.com

Do you see your local school systems encouraging children to learn through play? How do you feel about the way your child is invited to learn something new? I would love to hear your perspectives on learning through play!

Spring Cleaning: Responsibilities for Children by Age

Spring Cleaning: Responsibilities for Children by Age

montessori quote for empowerment toddler youth girlsI recently wrote about empowerment in children and the confidence that can be built in our little ones by challenging them and allowing them to contribute. During spring cleaning season this speaks volumes as I try and pick away at the chores that have taken over my home. This quote from Maria Montessori always rang true for me as an educator, so as soon as my daughter started showing interest in dumping items out of a container and all over the floor, I thought how critical for my sanity it was going to be that I start to teach her the responsibility of cleaning up those things after we were done playing with them.

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Running a daycare meant that I couldn’t just “leave the mess” – it wasn’t safe for everyone if we left toys and activities out all day. But putting something away before taking out something new doesn’t always apply at my house. I strongly believe in loose parts play (read more here) and letting toys show up where you wouldn’t imagine them – so I encourage the mess in learning through play.

That being said, creating a habit for coming to know when a task is complete and having part of the activity be putting it away are things that I find myself repeating until I am blue in the face. Little minds are busy and it’s not always easy to remember that something like a puzzle can be put away before the play kitchen ends up all over the floor – but having child sized tools for cleaning has been a big help in building interest in “helper activities” like sweeping the floor and dusting ledges. We love this set by Melissa and Doug. And how cute is this child-sized vacuum that has real suction and sounds!?

Getting my daughter involved in taking responsibility for our home makes life better for me too, even though it’s hard to let my neat freak tendencies go when my little bee wants to “fold laundry”, but setting the foundation for having responsibilities means it becomes the norm rather than another thing to fight about when that voice becomes a little bit harder to reason with.

spring cleaning build your child's confidence with age appropriate activitiesIn the early days when the bucket of blocks to be poured WAS the activity, I would use descriptive language of my own actions and make the activity fun while I did something habitual, knowing she was paying attention. A little song about what I was up to or a mini dance party made something like wiping up strawberries squished into the floor a little less taxing for the two of us (Check out this link for a free playlist of clean up songs!)

Waldorf Education believes highly in allowing children to learn through practical activity as well as having hands-on experience. Sure, it’s faster to just pick up the coat on the floor yourself and hang it up. No fight, no reasoning to be done, but an unintended message is also sent. I know personally as a mother, I already feel the weight of the world and my household on my shoulders in my “manager of everything” role. I don’t want to send the message to my daughter that it’s my job to clean up after her, that she doesn’t have a place in all of this, that she doesn’t need to take responsibility for her things. I want her to value my place in the home as well as hers, teach her that she is a contributing member in the home and that many hands make light work.

The Battle Begins with Me

Let’s get real. I don’t really like to clean either. I like things to BE CLEAN, but actually cleaning them myself? Not so much… I’m sure I can come up with a million other things to do. I know I can. My time is worth just as much as anyone else’s so why am I the only one concerned about the dishes piling up on the counter? Life gets crazy fast – it doesn’t matter how full your calendar is, how many children you have or what is going on. It’s hard. It’s all hard to keep up with and it feels overwhelming to have yet another thing to do at the end of the day.

 

When I come up to a dreaded activity like cleaning the bathroom, I’ve taken on a few different options

Netflix. Netflix I love you. I put on a show that I don’t really need to pay 100% attention to (stand up comedy is amazing for this unless little ears are near…) and I clean until the show is over, taking the laptop or tablet with me from room to room

I set a timer. Tiny action steps. 5 minutes doesn’t sound like much but if I set my phone alarm for 5 minutes and just clean as fast as I can, I can either keep going when the timer goes off or stop what I’m doing entirely, happy that I did something with my short burst of time

Music. I dance party to make just about anything more fun. Although it’s challenging to make a dance party out of how I actually feel about cleaning the toilet…

What Can Children Do to Help

I spent a lot of time researching what children are able to do at various ages and of course it is entirely dependent on your own child and where they are in their development but children are so much more able to take on tasks around the house then we think they are, and they are genuinely eager to do it. Okay, maybe not eager, but they like knowing they helped out and having that be celebrated (not rewarded… that’s a whole other story).

When it comes to setting our children up with lifelong success, those early steps we take to empower of kids with responsibility and trust are key to how they will approach the rest of their lives. Giving them age appropriate responsibilities around the house is an amazing starting place #printable #chat #toddler #preschooler #schoolaged #teen #boys #girls #growingup #mom #teaching #house #home #life #confidence

Under 2 Years:

These little ones are still pretty interested in making the mess as part of learning. And that’s great! But they are very able to:

Put items back into a box or bin, or books on a low shelf, using their gross motor skills and following two and three step directions: “pick up puppets and put them in the basket.” This will 100% result in doing the activity over and over and it taking 1000% longer but it’s clear to see the value from taking the time to do it

This age group will also love pouring food for a pet or helping to fill a water dish. Probably eating and drinking it too, but one that’s for you to sort out 😉

2-4 Years

Building on the previous list, children in this age group can:

Bring dishes to the kitchen from the table to the sink or dishwasher or help to set the table (being cautious with sharp items and glass until their handle on things is a bit stronger)

Those foundational pet care skills mentioned above develop as children know where to find pet food and take on this responsibility themselves

Now that they are able to pour with a bit more precision, plant care is a great activity; both indoor and outside in the garden

Helping to load laundry basket from the dryer, match socks and fold towels can turn into conversation about colour, size, shape

Wiping up spills

Beginning those steps of self care in washing while in the tub, of course with your supervision to ensure proper hygiene

Picking out their own clothes and self dressing and undressing. This is another that takes a lot longer but the skills don’t take long to develop when allowed. It also results in really creative outfits…

.

4-6 Years

Continuing to build on the previous lists, this age group can:

Make bed

Wash dishes, load and unload dishwasher

Sort and put away laundry

Dusting and window cleaning

Spot cleaning on floor while working on sweeping and mopping. It takes a while to build the upper body strength to do these tasks… never thought of it as a work out, huh?

Increasing responsibilities with pets, brushing and cleaning up after them.

Cleaning up the yard

Helping to clean up after a meal

Combing hair and brushing teeth (supervised to ensure proper care)

Know address and phone number

Know who to call for help

6 and older:

Adding to the growing list of responsibility and independence:

Cooking and meal preparation (with a parent nearby for safety from heat and sharp items)

Vacuum/mop

Bathrooms and mirrors

Tidy bedrooms and common areas

Take out the garbage

Unload groceries

Packing own lunch. Putting away and cleaning parts of lunch box after school

Pre-teen and Teenagers

This age group is very able to be an active part of the home by:

Doing all of the above

Making a meal once a week (even if it’s the same meal each week then there is no guess work!)

Babysitting siblings (age appropriate)

Doing own laundry

Lawn care

Get themselves up in the morning with alarm

What else would you add to these lists? Do you have tips to share to make life a little bit easier at home when it comes to spring cleaning?  

When it comes to setting our children up with lifelong success, those early steps we take to empower of kids with responsibility and trust are key to how they will approach the rest of their lives. Giving them age appropriate responsibilities around the house is an amazing starting place #printable #chat #toddler #preschooler #schoolaged #teen #boys #girls #growingup #mom #teaching #house #home #life
When it comes to setting our children up with lifelong success, those early steps we take to empower of kids with responsibility and trust are key to how they will approach the rest of their lives. Giving them age appropriate responsibilities around the house is an amazing starting place #printable #chat #toddler #preschooler #schoolaged #teen #boys #girls #growingup #mom #teaching #house #home #life #confidence

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